(The Center Square) – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware have created a regional supply chain partnership for personal protective equipment, coronavirus testing and other medical equipment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created a mad scramble for medical equipment across the entire nation,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the regional partnership during his Sunday news conference. “There was competition among states, private entities and the federal government, and we were driving up the prices of these critical resources. As a state and as a nation, we can’t go through that again.”
Cuomo called the process “inefficient and ineffective.”
“Plus, we just drove up prices by our own competition,” Cuomo said. “It was a limited supply. It was primarily in China, and then you have 50 states and all these private entities and the federal government trying to buy it from China. It made no sense.”
The partnership will seek out regional and American manufacturers to provide the needed equipment, Cuomo said.
State officials will identify the region’s needs then aggregate the demand among the states in order to reduce costs and stabilize the supply chain, according to a joint statement from the governors, who said they are preparing for a possible second wave of coronavirus.
“I’ve long been advocating for the federal government to get involved because pitting all 50 states against each other to compete for these supplies has never made any sense,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said. “Partnering with our neighbors helps make our purchasing power stronger and more dependable.”
The partnership between the states is not in lieu of a partnership with the federal government, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The coronavirus outbreak created an urgent situation, but now is the time to learn lessons, Cuomo said.
In addition to working with the partnership, New York health officials will not require hospitals to have a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment.
“Caution would suggest that as we go through this, we learn at the same time to make sure if we have to go through this again or if this is a prolonged situation that we are learning from what we are implementing,” Cuomo said.
A report Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there are different strains of the virus in the U.S. The strains that first appeared in Washington and the West Coast came from China.
“What we have seen in New York didn’t come from China but actually is a different strain of the virus that came from Europe,” Cuomo said. “Everybody’s looking at China. Meanwhile, the virus had traveled from China to Europe, spreading from Europe. We had Europeans coming, they come to the east coast. They land in New York. They go to New Jersey. They go to Connecticut. They are in the New York, and we’re all still looking at China. The travel ban on China may have been helpful, but the horse was already out of the barn in China.”
New York has led the country in the number of deaths and COVID-19 cases, but the situation seems to be improving. The number of hospitalizations because of COVID-19 was at 9,786, a number the state has not seen since March 18 or March 19, Cuomo said. An additional 799 COVID-19 cases were reported Sunday, along with 280 additional deaths.